When the great artist Michelangelo was asked about his sculpture of David, he said, “David was always there in the marble. I just took away everything that was not David.” When God’s people come face to face with their call, they often feel intimidated by the great responsibility that is being entrusted to them. A common first reaction is: ‘I think there are other people who could do that better than I could.’
That is exactly how Moses felt when God called him to lead the people of Israel out of the oppression of Egypt and into freedom. His first reaction was: “But who am I?” Jeremiah felt like he was just a child, and Paul said, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).
God always uses people in some way to carry out His purpose on the earth. The Lord Jesus chose twelve men whom He called apostles. He invested the majority of His ministerial life in them and then sent them out to continue the mission of redemption He had begun. Although Jesus could have poured His life into the multitudes, He chose to work on forming the character of twelve people who were completely different from one another. Just like the potter who works with the clay, He formed the character of each one of them for three and a half years. He then breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22b). How did Jesus manage to change twelve men into pillars of Christianity, though they were neither cultured nor educated, and had neither riches nor social standing? The answer is simple: they responded to the call of God and were willing to be molded by Him so that they could be sent.
The father of a certain family called his oldest son and said to him, “Son, you are a great soldier. Now, I would like you to help me look after the few sheep we have.” The son looked at his father and replied, “Dad, I am a very busy man. I am part of the army, I love my job and I simply don’t have time.” The father did not mind; he simply moved on to asking two of his other sons, who were also in the king’s army, to help him. They answered him much as the first one had. He then asked his fourth son, but he avoided the responsibility altogether, as did the fifth and sixth son.
His last option was to speak to the youngest son. The father went to him and said, “Son, could you help me look after these few sheep?” “It would be an honor for me to serve you father,” he answered, and he assumed that small responsibility with great resolve. This young man’s name was David. While his brothers were in the army, boasting about their impressive military uniforms, David had to spend entire nights watching a few sheep. However, he was never unhappy about it, nor did he do his work with a bad attitude. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to strengthen his relationship with God. His harp became a good companion and he discovered one of the most wonderful secrets: how to worship God with all his strength. He also became a great warrior; he learned how to defend himself against wild animals, and he fought off bears and lions to protect the sheep under his care.
While David was faithful in the responsibility he had been given, someone in the spiritual realm was watching him – God Himself. One day, the Lord told his servant Samuel, the prophet, ‘I have found a man after my own heart.’ After Saul disobeyed the Word that God had given him, Samuel told him, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).
Great ministries begin with small responsibilities. If we are faithful (understanding that faithfulness means doing things with a good heart, with love, joy and enthusiasm), the Lord will be able to entrust us with something much greater.
God took David out of the sheep pen and placed him as king over His people. When my daughter Sara was just 5 years old, she would come on stage with me to minister to the people. She really enjoyed praying for people and when she laid hands on them, they would fall to the ground. One day, while we were at a conference for pastors and leaders in Brazil, my daughter Sara realized that I was about to pray for people, so she ran quickly to ask me: “Dad, do you want some help?” “Of course,” I told her. That day she helped me pray for more than a thousand pastors. When she got tired, she said, “I think that’s enough help for now,” and ran off to carry on doing what she had been doing before. When she was nine years old, she began leading her first cell. Aged eleven, she shared her first message in a conference. She is now twenty-two and is an international conference speaker who loves what she does.